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prime (adj.)

late 14c., "first in order," from Latin primus "first, the first, first part," figuratively "chief, principal; excellent, distinguished, noble" (source also of Italian and Spanish primo), from pre-Italic *prismos, superlative of PIE *preis- "before," from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first, chief."

Meaning "first in importance" is from 1610s in English; that of "first-rate" is from 1620s. Arithmetical sense (as in prime number) is from 1560s; prime meridian "the meridian of the earth from which longitude is measured, that of Greenwich, England," is from 1878. Prime time originally (c. 1500) meant "spring time;" broadcasting sense of "peak tuning-in period" is attested by 1961.

prime (n.)

"earliest canonical hour" (6 a.m.), Old English prim, from Medieval Latin prima "the first service," from Latin prima hora "the first hour" (of the Roman day). Meaning "most vigorous stage" first recorded 1530s; specifically "springtime of human life" (often meaning ages roughly 21 to 28) is from 1590s. In classical Latin, noun uses of the adjective meant "first part, beginning; leading place."

prime (v.)

"to fill, charge, load" (a weapon), 1510s, probably from prime (adj.). Meaning "to cover with a first coat of paint or dye" is from c. 1600. To prime a pump (c. 1840) meant to pour water down the tube, which saturated the sucking mechanism and made it draw up water more readily. Related: Primed; priming.

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Definitions of prime from WordNet
1
prime (adj.)
of or relating to or being an integer that cannot be factored into other integers;
prime number
prime (adj.)
used of the first or originating agent;
prime mover
prime (adj.)
first in rank or degree;
the prime minister
Synonyms: premier
prime (adj.)
of superior grade;
prime beef
Synonyms: choice / prize / quality / select
prime (adj.)
being at the best stage of development; "our manhood's prime vigor"- Robert Browning;
Synonyms: meridian
2
prime (n.)
a natural number that has exactly two distinct natural number divisors: 1 and itself;
Synonyms: prime quantity
prime (n.)
the period of greatest prosperity or productivity;
prime (n.)
the second canonical hour; about 6 a.m.;
prime (n.)
the time of maturity when power and vigor are greatest;
Synonyms: prime of life
3
prime (v.)
insert a primer into (a gun, mine, or charge) preparatory to detonation or firing;
prime a mine
prime a cannon
prime (v.)
cover with a primer; apply a primer to;
Synonyms: ground / undercoat
prime (v.)
fill with priming liquid;
prime a car engine
From wordnet.princeton.edu